Friday, February 18, 2011

What Sort of Diplomat Doesn't Carry A Gun? The Sort in Mexico.


Some news media, especially those in Pakistan and the UK, have asked regarding Raymond Davis: "what sort of diplomat carries a gun?"

To which the answer seems to be: the sort who doesn't want to be helpless if he is ambushed while driving through a lawless land.

10 comments:

OnTheBorder said...

Well, there is this tricky FAM reference:

3 FAM 4123.5 General Conduct

An employee shall respect the laws of the country in which the employee is present.

TSB said...

There must be a loophole to that. In Pakistan (among other places) employees do sometimes carry personal defense weapons, and I don't mean just DS agents. Rightly or wrongly. Even I have had firearms with me while riding from Post A to Post B, under extraordinary circumstances.

If we are to respect their laws at all times, then I suppose there is a reciprocal responsibility by the host government to ensure a minimally secure environment.

Federale said...

It all depends on weather the Ambassador will allow it. And, of course, the local government. I understand that DEA agents routinely carry in Mexico. I think the Ambassador there needs to talk to someone.

TSB said...

You're right. Chief of Mission approval is needed first, and then - we hope - local approval for carry outside of our premises.

It's rare. As someone based in Washington who visits embassies on temporary duty, I've had firearms on only three occasions. Once in Colombia (in the 1980s), once in Beirut (in the 1990s) and once in Pakistan (last year).

The threat level in parts of Mexico has gone so high in the last year or so, that I'm astonished those ICE agents weren't armed while traveling between cities.

Anonymous said...

Some local reporting:

http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/jordan-122942-mexico-condition.html

TSB said...

Anon.,

Thanks. I remember one other thing we did to force Mexican compliance after the Camarena murder. The Customs Commissioner, William Von Raab, shut down border traffic for a week, which amounted to an economic embargo of Mexico.

Customs was more independent in those pre-DHS days (example: when SecState Shultz called Von Raab to plead on behalf of Mexican banks, Von Raab just blew him off) and, of course, Reagan was President then. I don't think there is a chance the administration would use border inspection for leverage today. But we could, and Congress might ask why we aren't.

Federale said...

Here is an interesting quote from a news story:

Raymond Davis, a former American special forces soldier, is a "protective officer" employed as a CIA contractor, the U.S. sources said.
Davis' duties were essentially as a bodyguard, to provide physical security to U.S. Embassy and consular officers and visiting American dignitaries, U.S. officials who declined to be identified told Reuters.
Officials strongly denied news reports alleging Davis was part of a covert CIA-led team of operatives conducting surveillance on militant groups.

Is Reuters just wrong in describing his duties, e.g. protecting CIA assets as opposed to protecting the embassy in general, or has the CIA taken over DS' duties in Pakistan?

TSB said...

Reuters is correct. The CIA's Global Response Service is not a secret (I'd seen media references to it even before this week), and it does indeed provide close protection for CIA operations and facilities where they are on their own (in expeditionary environments like FOB Chapman in Afghanistan, etc.). They don't duplicate DS, or handle State Department facilities.

Blackwater was a contractor for GRS in the past (as has been noted in the press), and evidently some of the BW people have now been converted to personal service contracts. Hence, Davis is assigned to Pakistan as a member of the embassy administrative and technical staff.

Federale said...

Personal service contracts? Those are illegal...

TSB said...

Uh-oh. Half the guys in my office are on them.